Friday, December 23, 2005

Catching up on things
Eighteen days and no posts. I can almost hear the blog screaming at me ... "Stop ignoring me!!" ... "But I have been busy." ... "Not too busy to just say 'Hi' once in awhile." ... "Yeah, you're right, sorry about that."
But even without posting, traffic here has been pretty steady and I'm kinda shocked by that. Anywhere from 30 to 60 people on any given day stop by the site [Thanks so much for that!]. I really have to try and make a commitment to do more with it, even if just to please those 30 to 60 folks who bother to stop by each day. At one point last month, Politizine was ranked in the Top 10,000 visited blogs in the world. Pretty impressive when you consider that I will sometimes go 18 days without a post! Hah.

There has been so much to write about of late but I just haven't had the chance.
I have been named the CEO of WKXL 1450 which basically means I will be running the station after the first of the year. It will mean added responsibilities and I will have to give up most of my news gathering and managing tasks. Short-term, it will be exhausting; but long-term, I think it will be a good move for me and I have great hope for 2006.
Speaking of blogs, I find it amusing - in a good way - that Herald Media, the company I used to work for, is now promoting the use of blogs at the Boston Herald and Town Online sites. Some of the posters, like Kevin Rothstein who now covers Boston City Hall have gone full-throttle; others are just using them to post election results and noodle a bit.
I'm glad someone in the company realized that it is a great medium to instantly speak to the public in a way that daily or weekly print newspapers just can't accomplish.
On a couple of occasions during my employment, I was informed that the fact that I had a blog made some people in the company uncomfortable despite the fact that I rarely spoke about the company. Some readers from Winchester, the town I used to cover, even complained that I had a blog even though I wasn't saying anything about them or the town [and what I could have said ...]. But what business is it of theirs, I would ask. I should be able to do what I want so long as it isn't done at work and doesn't affect my production, which, it never did. If anything, work affected my Politizine production. Hah, again.
I honestly think it was a control issue. Herald Media controls the blogs that they have; if someone starts one up himself, the company doesn't control it. But I am glad they are using the technology to share tidbits with their readers. Sometimes, you can't fit everything into the paper that you need to. Sometimes, you miss something. Sometimes, things break on Friday - the day after your weekly paper has been published. And I also know how hard the journalists for Herald Media work. There is sometimes no end to the day but it is an exhilarating feeling.
No news on the sale front of the papers though. There are some investment bankers looking to cash out and it may be the end of the Purcell era soon.

Canceling Esquire
I decided to let my Esquire subscription lapse this month. Over the years, I have had an on and off relationship with the magazine and never quite understood why. I think it has always been a subliminal need to imagine how good I would look in really expensive clothes, watches, cars and babes - none of which I would ever be able to afford in my lifetime [So why support this even at $10 a year?]. Not that that is a big deal or anything. I guess I have never really liked how I looked - with the exception of that skinny curly long-haired art rocker phase I went through in the early 1980s - and if I could look at pretty guys all dressed up, I might feel better about my own potential "look." Not that I am bad looking or anything. But thinking about it now, I'm probably not the only man who feels inferior looking at all the good-looking guys in the magazine knowing that I will never look that good because it takes 15-hours to look like that! It is an unrealistic standard to hold yourself to.
And yeah, there were always some pretty good articles in the magazine too. The piece following Joe Trippi around before the Dean collapse in Iowa was great and the recent article about the end of oil was enough to make you go build a windmill and bomb shelter in the backyard to keep the power on and save yourself from the George Romero end of the world zombies who will be eating your brains after the apocalypse. But two articles in the last couple of years that were memorable? That isn't a lot. Compare that to say Vanity Fair, which has the readable - and memorable - Christopher Hitchens, James Wolcott, and countless other things every month.
Esquire, for all its pomp and circumstance, and past historical relevance, just isn't meaningful anymore. I can't recall the first time I read the magazine but I do remember an article from the late 1970s, early 1980s, about the night softball game and beer-drinking craze of the time period. The front cover had this hot chick with cleats thrown over her shoulder, complaining that her man's softball games were ruining her sex life. Yeah right. Well, that guy just didn't know how to balance the two!
And putting Bill Clinton on the cover ... when our nation is at war ... what the hell was that ... shock, horrors ...
Seriously though. It is totally schizophrenic right now. It can't decide if it wants to be a gay household table top art magazine or a frat boy FHM bikini pinup magazine or something else, none of which reflects me as a person or a man these days. I'm not 18 anymore. I'm not gay. If I want good articles to read and beautiful women to look at - with little clothing on - I will buy Playboy and get the best of both worlds!
So, as John McLaughlin would say, bahye, bahye Esquire. May you find your former place in magazine history.

Random clips
I honestly don't want to go into the domestic spying stuff. I will lose a gasket and this screen will remain blank for many more than 18 days. I am infuriated beyond words. It is so damn unAmerican it isn't even funny. Plus, I think former Sen. Gary Hart says it best here: ["Intelligence Abuse Deja Vu"].

R.I.P. Jack Anderson: ["Crusading journalist Jack Anderson dies"]. Boy, they just don't make them like that anymore, do they? With columnists selling their space to lobbyists and other such nonsense: ["Op-Eds for Sale"], it is amazing this guy was even in the field. What character. I remember watching him on "Good Morning America" when I was a kid. I always thought he was an interesting story-teller and had these scandalous little tidbits about stuff going on in Washington. As I grew up and started reading newspapers, I found similar things out from Jack Germond and Robert Novak, and eventually became a journalist myself. He was one of the greats in the field.

Bill Weld, New York governor? Yeah right, stranger things have happened. The enjoyer of amber-colored spirits everywhere will have an easy time relating to the common man of the state. Although, he wasn't such a bad governor when I lived in Massachusetts, especially compared to how the Democratic nominee in 1990, nut John Silber, could have potentially ran the state! However, he is being taken seriously which means that the media there - Boston viciousness on 'roids with even more pompousness than the clowns on Morrissey Blvd. - will be coming after him. Like, say, this: ["Ghosts of a Shuttered College Follow Weld"]. Weld's campaign site is here: [Weld for New York]. Damn. Doesn't he look like shit? Too much good living in dreary ole Manhattan.

Earlier I was talking about blogs and I did want to remember to note this interesting article about citizen journalists in metro Massachusetts: ["Citizen journalists fill a niche with e-news"]. This could be where it is all potentially going: People with full-time or part-time jobs also taking on the part-time responsibility of covering their towns for the Web, so that everyone can connect themselves to what is often a disconnected town or city government.

The coming end of classical music in Boston?: ["Sale signals classical music's swan song"] and ["Greater Media, Charles River In Exclusive Negotiation"]. There has been a ton of gossip about this radio sale on the Web but it will be interesting to see how much it fetches. The rumor is somewhere in the $100 million range. Can you imagine that? Insane, for sure.

This didn't get as big a play as it should have: ["Family Upset Over Soldier's Body Arriving As Freight"]. MSNBC's Keith Olberman had it on but it was ignored by everyone else [I wonder why]. How reprehensible. You lose your kid and the military ships the body back to you like passenger baggage.

Nick Zampiello, who has mastered a bunch of my recordings over the years, was featured in this Boston Herald article about the gentrification of my old Fenway neighborhood: ["Sound of silence: Fenway music scene drowned out by gentrification"]. Of course, the Herald is about 10 to 15 years too late for the big story about real estate in this area. But it was nice to see that they were acknowledging all these business folks losing their space.

This was a very cool find: ["Subway Workers Unearth N.Y. History"]. Imagine that. A fort wall sinking into the ground over a few hundred years. Isn't it amazing how the earth works sometimes?

Monday, December 5, 2005

Echos of a Bunnyfan
Delfin Vigil published this concert preview in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week. This is the kind of article I like because it is from a fan's perspective. Sure, reviews are good, but those are often just an opinion of something and are not always positive [This, coming from a person who used to review a lot of music, slaying many a talented artist with the written word].

In seventh grade, I wrote an essay titled "Why Echo & the Bunnymen are the Greatest Band in the F -- World."
I expected either an A for coherently writing about what I passionately believed in or an F for failing to follow directions. I'd have been happy with either grade. But the teacher simply drew a big question mark above the crossed-out swear word. Like so many others, she didn't know what to make of Echo & the Bunnymen.
As the Liverpool band's singer Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant set sail into the turquoise lights of San Francisco's Fillmore on Monday in support of "Siberia" -- their 20th album together (and sometimes apart) since the band formed in 1978 -- that question mark seems to stick around like a prickly porcupine. How is the world supposed to honor a group whose songs would be an inspiration for Coldplay, the Flaming Lips and films like "Donnie Darko"?

Heaven up here
Kevin Keiper, the cool kid down the street, got me hooked. It was 1987. I was 12 years old, sifting through Kevin's "modern rock" record collection, which included the Cure, the Smiths, Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen. The Cure was cool, but I couldn't wear the requisite lipstick and fluorescent makeup without getting smacked across the face by my father. The Smiths had something to say with "Meat Is Murder," but life seemed incomplete without carne asada. And Joy Division's Ian Curtis clocked out too early to light up my life.
That left Echo & the Bunnymen. On their record sleeves, they looked more like longshoremen or merchant marines than mere rock stars. McCulloch, the tipsy captain, led his men with guts and passion, making city after city and stereo after stereo just a little more magical and romantic year after year.
Between 1980 and 1984, Echo & the Bunnymen recorded four albums, each more critically successful and hit-filled than the last. Their greatest moment, I'd say, was "The Killing Moon," a song so perfect and timeless it sounds as if it could have been written a hundred years earlier, maybe on a ship lost at sea.
But soon after I jumped onboard, the ship sank. Drummer Pete de Freitas died in a motorcycle accident, and McCulloch sailed off on a solo career. After the mutiny, the Bunnymen Bounty voyaged on with a fill-in singer. As a stowaway fan, I felt I had to do something to save all of our souls.

King of kings
We were waiting with our best suit coats on. My best friend, K.C., and I cut class at Benicia High School to catch a glimpse of McCulloch heading into a sound check for his 1991 solo gig at Slim's in San Francisco. After we'd been waiting several hours, a taxi pulled up and out stepped our hero into the fog-filled South of Market afternoon to shake our hands and sign our records like a slugger heading to batting practice.
The conversation was short, and so were we.
"Lovely weather we're having, eh," said Mac, towering over us. I pumped my fist and whispered to K.C.: "Yes! He loves cold weather."
The conversation quickly ended, but the night of our lives had only just begun.
McCulloch performed a semi-acoustic but completely romantic set that included a Leonard Cohen cover and three Bunnymen classics. I stole his guitar pick and set list and drank his glass of "water," which turned out to be vodka.
But something was missing.
"Where's Will? He misses you!" I shouted, knowing full well that the two no longer spoke.
"Will? I haven't seen him in years."
His long pause and the fact that he'd answered my question made me believe that Mac still cared about his fellow Bunnyman, and maybe my good vibes could help them reconnect. At least I hoped so.

Don't let it get you down
When Echo & the Bunnymen came to California in 1992 without McCulloch, I had mixed emotions. But more important, I had a mission: I believed I could help get the real Bunnymen back together.
The problem was that they were playing a cheesy club called the Rage, in a Sacramento strip mall. It was 21-and-older only, and I was 16. I called the club in the middle of the afternoon and said I was a friend of the band.
Before long, original Bunnymen bass player Les Pattinson was on the phone, laughing at my scheme. Impressed with my passion, Les said he'd put me on the guest list -- as long as I promised not to drink.
The first thing I noticed when I showed up was that no one in the crowd was wearing any cool Bunnymen coats. One guy actually danced around in a white rabbit costume, waving around a carrot as if it were a cigar. Blasphemy!
Toward the end of the set, during a rendition of "Silver" -- a sacred song from 1984's "Ocean Rain" album that McCulloch rarely sang live -- the club's electricity went out. Noel Burke, the replacement singer, joked that it was "an act of God."
"You're damn right it is!" I shouted, apparently the only person sober enough that night to know something wasn't right.

Show of strength
At the encore, I raced out of the club to grab my rare Bunnymen records out of my friend's car, hoping to have Les and Will autograph them. On my way to the tour bus, I felt a fist hit the side of my head. Then another in my stomach. Two thugs had left a gin-and-juice parking lot party to mug me.
"Grab his bag," shouted one.
In a fight-or-flight moment, I pressed the fight button. I was ready to die for my Bunnymen records that night, kicking and punching with all of my colors.
Either they figured I wasn't worth it, or maybe they already had a limited-edition picture disc vinyl bootleg of Echo & the Bunnymen live in Milan 1984. They let me go, and I slowly approached the Bunnymen bus with a big black eye, bruises on my body, blood on my face -- and records in my hand. Pattinson opened the door.
"What the hell happened to you, kid?" He let me in, and for the next three hours told me tales of touring the world with the original Bunnymen.
Sergeant was there, and at one point I played a copy of my band's demo for them. They listened to the whole thing and smiled. It was great, even though the music wasn't.
Just before I left, I told Les what I really believed: "You've got to get the Bunnymen back together with Mac. It might not last forever, but I bet there's still some magic left." My eye had puffed out further and blood was still dripping down the side of my mouth.
Pattinson laughed and wiped the blood from my face with a cold rag. "Thanks, kid," was all he said.

A promise
Years went by with little music coming from either the Mac or Will-and-Les camps. Eager to find out what was going on, I called McCulloch's record company in London. WEA Records executive Phil Knox Roberts, a friendly fellow, picked up, and I explained my reason for calling.
"This must be your destiny because I never answer this phone," he said. "Looks like you'll be the first to know that Mac and Will are back making music together again. Nobody really knows about this but, believe me, the Bunnymen will be back."
It was my first scoop.

Never stop
In 1997, the three original members of Echo & the Bunnymen released their comeback album, "Evergreen," complete with a United Kingdom Top 10 hit, "Nothing Lasts Forever." My mission was complete.
The group toured several times after I graduated from high school and spent the next 10 or so years in community college. Each time I'd finagle a way backstage or to the after-party and buy my heroes an Anchor Steam (Will) or a Tequila Sunrise (Mac). The last time I saw them offstage was in November, in back of an Indian restaurant in New York after a phenomenal gig on the current "Siberia" tour. I was invited to do a 29-minute interview. But we sat all night around the table, with them listening to a montage of my memories growing up as a Bunnyfan. Vaguely remembering me, Mac and Will seemed both fascinated and freaked out by my fanaticism.
Having traveled across the country mostly to thank them, I had only one real question to ask in the "interview," one I'd first thought of back when I was 12. "Are you guys happy?"
"Am I happy?" asked Mac. "I'm happy today. Are you happy, Will? I'm happy if you're happy."
Sergeant, staring at the table like a stoic Inca warrior lost in space, nodded his head. Then they both headed out into the stormy weather of New York.
These stars are stars 'cause they shine so hard.

ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN 8 p.m. Mon. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. $25. (415) 346-6000,
E-mail Delfin Vigil at

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Who is more influential: Rush Limbaugh or the New York Times?

A lot has been said about the mainstream media's influence over the American people ... about how they lie, corrupt, and only tell half the story, that they are a bunch of kiss-ass liberals, etc. and this has been talked about over and over again, without much agreement from any side.
Over the years, I've had a number of deep discussions with all kinds of different people about the influence of the media and whether or not it actually is as powerful as we may think and whether or not people are actually being given "the truth" in news and all that encompasses that statement.
Working in the media and being critical of the media at the same time is a fine line unless you work very hard to put out the best product you possibly can. I do believe I am doing this in my work time. But in my play time, I like to look at other things like this.
As we know, from studies by liberal groups like FAIR and others, the corporate entanglements of the news business has been very effective at censoring serious and important stories about the way we live, the food we eat, the capitalist system, and other things too long to go into in one sentence. We all know about stories which were killed because of the corporate implications of a story; we all know powerful people who have been able to keep things out of print; we all know that newsrooms have been decimated to preserve profits to the point where few people get much red meat in their news anymore.
As we know, from studies by conservative groups like AIM and others, many reporters and journalists tend to be socially-liberal politically and in their text, tend to label conservatives more stringently than others - Sen. Jesse Helms was always labeled as an "arch-conservative" but Sen. Edward Kennedy isn't always labeled as "liberal" ... calling folks "anti-abortion" instead of "pro-life," etc. [In columns, Teddy is often called "the liberal lion," but that is a term of endearment so it doesn't count. We are talking about the news].
Essentially, both opinions are correct. But the honest truth is that in politics, you can't get people to act unless you motivate them to the Nth degree - scaring them with twisted words either one way or the other. FAIR and AIM are both guilty of this.
But is the mainstream media really that influential from the alleged left compared to talk radio which is definitely right of center? More specifically, who would you guess is more influential: Rush Limbaugh or the New York Times?
Well, the latest talk radio listening figures are out from Talkers Magazine, posted here: ["Latest top host figures"]. Now Talkers, being a rah-rah for syndication and other foolish things over the years, isn't as good a source as say a legit accounting firm or the folks who count the Academy Award votes. But, they are all we have to look it from this perspective. And this list tells us a lot about what is going on in the radio world. Limbaugh - or Limboob as I call him on some posting boards, much to the chagrin of his fans - is the top radio talk show host with 13.75 million listeners according to some creative tinkering of the Arbitrons rating system. So, at any given time, potentially, as many as 14 million people are listening to his radio show every day. It could be more; it could be less. But this is a base figure used for advertising and bragging rights. This is down from a peak of about 20 million listeners during the height of the Clinton years, when Limboob was too busy being funny instead of popping pills.

Sidebar: I want to concentrate the bulk of this on the Limbaugh vs. Times issue but the other numbers from Talkers are pretty striking if you consider the overwhelming number of conservatives on the air and their influence over the public. Of the top radio talk show hosts, only a handful are non-conservatives. Howard Stern, tied for fourth, is politically libertarian but also has swings to the left on some issues. And his content is reprehensible at best. Doug Stephan is a political-moderate, although on business issues, he tends to swing right of center. George Noory does Art Bell's show and doesn't talk much about politics, from what I have heard. And Kim Kammando, Dr. Joy Browne, Dave Ramsey, and Jim Rome have specialized shows. The other 14 host rounding out the Top 10 list are decidedly right of center and conservative. All these hosts have a potential audience of more than 76 million people who could be clearly influenced by their shows and opinions during any given broadcast. Now, this is just the Top 10. This doesn't go down from there counting the other shows, like Howie Carr, Jay Severin, or others in local markets from which we know that conservatives outnumber liberals. A truly liberal host doesn't make it until Number 13 with Al Franken. Tom Leykis used to be considered a liberal but now all he talks about is sex.
Yet, compare these figures to the number of people reading newspapers. I posted them here: ["Newspapers"]. The combined daily readership of all the Top 10 newspapers is 9.9 million readers meaning Limbaugh tops all the newspapers combined. As well, some newspapers have liberal editorial boards and some have conservative ones. For example, the Number 2 paper, The Wall Street Journal, has a circ of more than 2 million readers. The New York Daily News and the New York Post also have conservative slants. This brings the openly conservative papers up to a circ of about 3.3 million. The Number 1 paper, USA Today, at 2.3 million circ, gives dual editorials, often representing both sides of an issue.

Now, let's look at the latest figures from the New York Times circulation numbers, posted for investors at its Web site: ["Circulation Data"]. Clearly, things are mixed for the old grey lady: home delivery numbers are down but single copy sales are up over the last year. The Sunday numbers are pretty even.
But the point of the comparison is this: On any given day in the Fall of 2005, there were 14 million people listening to Rush's show; on any given day in March 2005, there were 1.14 million copies of the Times in circulation. Even if you said two or three people read one issue of the Times, that would still leave the potential audience numbers at about four to one [Rush listeners: 14 million; Times readers: 3.5 million].
Now some will say that the Times influences other reporters, editors, and some of their articles are syndicated, so that influence trickles down to other newspapers and readers. I can buy that. It is clear that Judith Miller fudging the weapons of mass destruction story, for example, was spread throughout the country and affected more readers and definitely had an influence over public policy and public opinion. Fair enough. So let's double the Times readership and influence to 7 million folks daily, just for the heck of it. Well, that still only amounts to half of Limbaugh's daily audience.
Some might say that Rush is only on five times a week while the Times publishes seven times a week. OK, but that doesn't account for Rush's rebroadcasting either, which is on at night in smaller markets and repeated on weekends in edited format.
Another person might say that Rush has a strong, loyal following, so those folks have their minds made up politically already, whereas the Times only reaches those people who don't have their minds made up and therefore can be influenced or brain-washed by their supposed liberal bias. But, you know what? That is a bunch of bunk. Limbaugh has liberal listeners just like the Times has conservative readers. Both are influential over the public; the key is that one is more influential than the other, clearly: A guy who talks to 14 million people a day is more influential than a newspaper which sells 1.14 million editions a day. As well, the Times, as bad as it may be, doesn't pound away at its readers with opinion on every single page, every waking minute. Most of its opinion is on the editorial page and sometimes on the front page. With Limbaugh, it is for three hours straight of pounding away opinion.
So it is crystal clear that Limbaugh - and other talk radio hosts - is much more of an influence over the public than mainstream media outlets.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Catching up on headlines

Here are some articles I have missed recently and are worth taking a second look at.
First, finally, the Sex Pistols will be acknowledged for their "legacy": ["Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath, and Lynyrd Skynyrd finally in US rock hall of fame"]. Finally, finally, finally .... Yes, yes, yes! Rock and roll baby! Kerraaang!
Speaking of the Sex Pistols, Johnny's fave trousers have been banned in Winona: ["Minn. high school bans 'bondage' pants"].
First, there was the death of the LP. Then, live bands and freeform radio. Then, the record business in general. Now, it is the DJ: ["Jukeboxes, DJs being pushed out by iPods"]. In some ways, this is a cool thing because it empowers people to be creative. On the other hand, it is costing a DJ a job. But, on the flip of that, DJs put a lot of live bands out of work so ...
Guess who likes to fly on the cuff, paid for by big business?: ["Sen. Bayh ranks 4th in privately paid trips"]:
"Bayh reported a total of 44 privately paid trips since 2000. Twelve foreign trips accounted for more than 60 percent of the private money spent for Bayh's travel.
Trips to China cost $40,524."
Eh, what the hell is he doing in China? Oh yeah, he's a man of the people. I forgot.
Speaking of men of the people, here's one challenging Hillary: ["Ex-Green Party Member to Challenge Hillary"]. It's pretty good that this guy even got on AP.
Then, there is this, about an aggressive [female] reporter covering a local beat here in New Hampshire and being driven out of her job: ["A small-town tale"]. What is interesting about this is that most newspapers would KILL to get a reporter like this for the local beat! There is so much corruption on the local level and exposing it sells papers. Plus, Mark Jurkowitz does a really good job of telling the story here - although no one seems to want to tell the whole story.
Fifth, ah, the tracking issue again: ["CDC Proposal Would Help U.S. Track Travelers"]. I don't understand why we just don't ban people from infected areas from coming into the country! That seems like the simplest solution.
Lastly, who says you can't succeed in this world? Lisa Carver ... zine publisher, mom, and now, a published author for the third time. What a shock: ["A scum-shock queen grows up"].
I first met Lisa back in 1985 or 1986 when she was this crazed teen fronting her own band Suckdog. She would run around at all ages shows in ripped up pantyhose, screaming into microphones like she was on some sorta psycho rampage. Her sexually-charged performances were dark but kind of a turn on at the time [Hey, I was 22, OK?]. But I wouldn't go near the girl because she was clearly disturbed. Plus, she was always stomping on my gear which really ticked me off! Not a good way to make friends.
At the time, I was "playing" guitar in Jim Hildreth's noise band called Insanicide. I say "playing" because actually all I would do is kinda stand there, chain-smoke clove cigarettes [no alcohol was allowed in the halls; we drank from our cars], strum some chords or pluck the strings, and let the guitar sound just kinda wash over everyone, through these weird effects and this really cool Roland Super Cube amp I had at the time. This little 60 watt amp used to shake the walls it was so loud. The amp had this really great distortion and reverb patch which gave it this deafening howl of a sound. And after going through the rack mount I had, there wasn't much left of the actual music. Imagine if whales were soldiers being tortured at the Hanoi Hilton. That is kinda how I would describe the sound.
Insanicide had two or three demo tapes released which were destine never to be played on radio. But the layered feedback noise thing we were doing at the time was actually pretty original and cool. Andy Smith, the other guitarist in the band [Jim played bass and "sang"], would later put out this brilliant seven inch single of noise called "Boneyard," which I think I still have somewhere. In fact, I believe I still have some of the Suckdog performances from those shows on tape somewhere [I'm notorious for saving just about everything audio]. Maybe I will have to find them and send them to her. Yeah, I'm gonna buy Lisa's book. Why not? She's a mom now and has to pay the rent like everyone else!
Also, Jim Hildreth, if you are out there, please touch base with me!

Friday, December 2, 2005

NH Dems submit '08 primary plan
Cross posted at DailyKos

The following was sent out this week to news organizations by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, in attempt to preserve the state's First in the Nation primary status.
As an aside, I would also suggest the following recent books to read about the history of the New Hampshire primary:

"Why New Hampshire?" by SOS Bill Gardner and the late Hugh Gregg.
"Primary Politics" by Charles Brereton.

Personally, as an award-winning radio and print journalist, political junkie, voter in N.H., and now a radio program director for a news/talk station, I appreciate what state officials are trying to do in preserving our state's First in the Nation status. I have written extensively about the issue on my own blog and, like others, have come up with my own solutions.
While some people may feel it is time to take this away from New Hampshire, it is important to understand that our state created the process and we should be allowed to work on fixing what both political parties, candidates, the boatloads of money, special interests of all shapes and sizes, have done to screw the process up.
I personally would like to see Iowa and New Hampshire preserved as the first and then work on ways of bringing the New Hampshire and Iowa experience to other states. That can only be done with a lot of thinking, planning, and time spent on design. Our state's governor, John Lynch, a Democrat, wrote a critical - and dead-on correct - letter to Chairman Howard Dean this week, clearly noting that the commission has lost its way. Having watched their talks on C-Span and follow the process, this is clear. But that doesn't mean that folks like us can't come up with our own ideas on how to fix the process.

Here is what the NH Dems released this week:


Dear Commissioner,
Throughout the Commission's meetings and hearings, there have been two critical concerns about the current nominating calendar: frontloading and diversity.
Addressing these two challenges is critical to our party, our future nominees and our ability to motivate our supporters and attract additional voters. All of us want to resolve these concerns with an approach that will utilize our resources and build on our strengths to achieve electoral success in 2008 and beyond.
Throughout the life of this Commission, New Hampshire has been an engaged, cooperative partner in the effort to improve the primary system. We have embraced efforts to move diverse states to the front of the calendar.
However, we have become alarmed at recent press reports about the possible direction this Commission may take in drafting its final report. We are concerned that the problem of frontloading could be exacerbated - making the process narrower and less democratic - with devastating consequences for the swing states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Any primary calendar that leads off with new caucuses at the font of the calendar and before the New Hampshire primary would explode the very problem of frontloading. It will result in decreased input from regular people and grassroots activists. There could also be serious future political damage to the Democratic Party in New Hampshire - which has a newly-elected Democratic governor and was the only state to turn from red to blue in 2004.
There is a better alternative - a compromise that adds diversity and decreases frontloading. At the October 1 Commission meeting, New Hampshire offered a compromise proposal that was distributed as a scenario outline to Commissioners at the meeting (a complete version of the proposal is attached). This proposal would add early diversity and decrease frontloading by scheduling one or two new contests in a prominent position at the front of the presidential nominating calendar, between the New Hampshire primary and the beginning of the period open to any state. It also calls for extending the calendar backward - to give all states more influence in the nominating process and help our Party nominate a candidate who has been thoroughly tested by voters across the nation.
The proposals being discussed in the press have the dangerous potential of making any problems with the Party's nominating calendar worse, just to move other states early. We appreciate your consideration of the attached alternative proposal and look forward to discussing it in more detail with you.

Kathy Sullivan
NH Democratic Party Chair


Nominating Calendar Proposal:Greater Diversity, More Participation, Less Frontloading


This proposal is designed to advance the objectives of electing a Democrat to the presidency, encouraging increased voter participation in the Democratic presidential nominating process, turning out an increasingly diverse and representative Democratic voter base, and facilitating grassroots organization and party-building that will help elect Democrats at all levels of federal and state elections in 2008.


This proposal rests on two conceptual changes to the presidential nominating calendar that, working together, will preserve the historic strengths while addressing most of the key criticisms of the current system. The two proposed changes are:
1. Add one or two contests to a prominent position at the front of the presidential nominating calendar, between the New Hampshire primary and the beginning of the period open to any state. These contests would occur in states whose voting public displays substantial racial, ethnic, religious or other key diversity characteristics
2. Reverse the frontloading trend by creating a series of sanctioned dates on which states could hold presidential primaries or caucuses, beginning on or about the first Tuesday of February and ending on or about the second Tuesday in June, wherein the DNC Rules would set the number of delegates that could be chosen on each sanctioned date, thereby limiting the number of states that could hold contests on each date.
The two challenges posed by the current presidential nominating calendar are: (1) the need for increased voter diversity at the front end of the process, as early states are not as diverse or "representative" of the larger electorate as they could be; and (2) the calendar is far too front-loaded.

1. Diversity

Increasing diversity at the front end of the process is best addressed by adding a state or states to an early, prominent position in the presidential nominating calendar following Iowa and New Hampshire. Beyond that practical solution, Democrats should be wary of trying to over-engineer the presidential nominating process in an effort to produce a particular result. The law of unintended consequences will surely come into play (e.g., when the Super Tuesday southern primaries were designed to produce a more moderate presidential nominee and that did not occur). Although no single state can credibly claim to represent or be a proxy for the entire nation, some of the proposed alternatives - a national primary; multiple regional primaries; or alternating lead-off states every four years - each pose serious problems that are much more problematic than the current system.
* A national primary or multiple regional primaries would eliminate the all-important one-on-one, grassroots politics at the front of the process, substituting instead a campaign that takes place exclusively in television studios, on airport tarmacs, and in pre-arranged, highly orchestrated large events.
* A national primary or multiple regional primaries would be enormously expensive to participate in, favoring well-heeled candidates over lesser-known ones while increasing the influence of money and special interests in the nominating process.
* A national primary or multiple regional primaries would also further condense the process (to a single date, or perhaps to very few dates).
* Under a national or regional-based system, states would continue to lose influence, and only the largest states would participate meaningfully in the nominating process.
* A national or regional-based system would depress turnout because candidates would be forced to run media-based campaigns rather than voter mobilization efforts.
* Alternating lead-off status and significantly changing the order of primaries every four years would likely not conform to the Republican calendar, making the process more expensive as well as more unpredictable. Plus, individual states would only get an opportunity to go early once in a generation, after waiting for several election cycles. States can better gain influence by scheduling their contests on a particular date in a prolonged, 3-4 month nominating calendar free of frontloading.
* Predictability is an important consideration - for political parties, candidates, electorates and the media - and it would be significantly undermined if not wholly sacrificed if the nominating calendar were to be transformed each presidential election cycle.
Adding a diverse state or states to the front of the calendar, between the New Hampshire primary and the beginning of the period open to any state - as opposed to a national, regional, or alternating lead-off state system - is the best, most preferable strategy for addressing the need for greater diversity earlier in the nominating process.

2. Frontloading

The basic problem with the current presidential nominating calendar, which causes many states to lose influence in the process, has nothing to do with Iowa and New Hampshire, or with which state or states go first: the basic problem is frontloading, i.e., the process of condensing the nominating calendar to a much earlier, shorter time period.
As the Hunt Commission warned in 1982, frontloading trends then evident (and now much more pronounced):
"...threaten to `lock up' the nomination prematurely, fore-shortening the period during which candidates may be developed and issues may emerge. They make the party and its convention less able to respond to a changing political environment. And they devalue states whose primaries and caucuses come late, reducing the prospects of a meaningful showdown between major candidates at the end of the window period."
Ironically, frontloading - where states march to the front of the process in order to gain more influence - results in many states being bunched up on the same dates, whereby each actually loses influence over the nominating process.
It is frontloading - not Iowa and New Hampshire - that forces candidates to drop out and narrows the field too early, because only those with sufficient money to compete in a number of states across the country, which have bunched up (frontloaded) on the same dates soon after Iowa and New Hampshire, can credibly remain in the race.
Front-loading closes the decision-making process too quickly. Having the final decision made so early in the process/calendar decreases voter interest and participation, as voters in later states perceive that their vote doesn't count. It is also unfair to candidates who may not have the finances to compete in dozens of primaries over the course of a few short weeks after Iowa and New Hampshire.
A preferable approach is to lengthen the calendar to a 3-4 month period of party-sanctioned primary and caucus dates, beginning in February and ending in June, wherein individual states would be allowed to schedule their primaries or caucuses on dates that they can occupy alone, or share with a few other states, as DNC Rules would delimit the number of delegates that can be chosen (and therefore the number of states that could hold contests) on each sanctioned date.
A longer calendar, with a limited number of delegates chosen and states holding contests on each sanctioned date, will:
* give individual states more influence on the nominating process, as each state, either voting by itself or sharing the date with only one or two other states at most, would essentially "own" that particular date on the nominating calendar;
* allow more candidates to compete for a longer time (i.e., does not narrow the field prematurely);
* give the Democratic Party and Democratic voters across the country more opportunity to assess and reflect upon the relative qualifications, strengths and weaknesses of the candidates;
* increase voter interest, participation and turnout;
* strengthen state parties and energize voters at the grassroots level; and
* contribute to the selection of a nominee who has demonstrated sustained, broad-based support and who is therefore more electable in November.
Should a group of states wish to hold their contests on a particular date or within a particular week, and choose more delegates on that date than would otherwise be provided for in the rule, reasoning that their influence would be increased by voting in such a fashion - e.g., the currently-proposed Rocky Mountain Primary - such an exception is consistent with and can be provided for and accommodated under the rule proposed herein.


The above proposal addresses the two greatest weaknesses in the current presidential nominating calendar: (1) a lack of diversity in the early stages of the process; and (2) an overly frontloaded process. It is these problems, not the historic lead-off status of Iowa and New Hampshire, which the Commission should be looking to address. This proposal addresses these problems in a way that will not only increase diversity and better represent the views of Democratic voters nationwide, but will also encourage voter participation, strengthen state parties, provide better opportunities for presidential candidates to stay in the race longer while taking their case directly to voters at a grassroots level, and will ultimately help Democrats choose the most electable nominee.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Church today
This morning, I went to a Catholic church for the first time since my son was baptized. It was a work-related issue that I won't go into but needless to say, I was glad I was there. The pastor's comments about the beginning of Advent really struck me and I was glad he made them. Paraphrasing, he stated that we shouldn't be obsessed with the consumerism of Christmas and should instead understand the reason for the season. He stated at how shocked he was that people were lining up at 3 a.m. for a store opening at 6 a.m. and how people were trampling over others just to get a deal. He said that people were using shopping to replace spirituality in their lives. He even noted that he was getting caught up with "the stuff," instead of why we should be enjoying this time of the year with friends and family. You've gotta clean out that junk drawer full of stuff and let Jesus into your hearts, again, paraphrasing. At the end of the sermon, I went to talk to him for a bit, and he thanked me for coming. I did pull his ear a bit, mentioning that there was a Buy Nothing Day movement out there talking about similar things and that his sermon would have been more effective BEFORE Thanksgiving, saving the flock from the shopping mayhem that ensued. He agreed that it was a good point and admitted that he was getting caught up in it himself and that was how the sermon came to him.

Friday, November 25, 2005

As Black Friday ends ...
And I'm proud to say that once again, I didn't buy a single thing on this day. Congratulations to all who decided not to participate in this gluttonous and ruinous day after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Recent big headlines:
Jose Padilla has finally been indicted ... not for Oklahoma City, but for allegedly plotting to set off a dirty bomb: ["Dirty Bomb Suspect Jose Padilla Indicted"].
Another report showing no link between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks: ["Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel"].
McCain says there could be trouble on the horizon?: ["McCain, Graham Warn GOP May Be in Trouble"].
Fourth, Congress may be reopening the Oklahoma City bombing case: ["'Compelling' evidence of another terroristU.S. senator forecasts investigation by Congress"].
Again, newspapers, in serious trouble: ["A future of empty doorsteps? Dark days for US newspapers"].
More information about previous knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks: ["Weldon pushes 'Able Danger' criminal probe"].
A very interesting profile of Sen. Feingold by Michael Crowley: ["Withdrawal Symptoms"].
Pat Buchanan continues to make sense: ["Paris Burning: How Empires End"].
DailyKos poll update
Today, DailyKos posted the results from the last few Dem straw polls:

dKos reader poll. 11/21. 11,627 respondents.
Nov Sept Aug July June
Clark 26 34 35 34 26
Feingold 19 19 16 10 10
Warner 14 4 3 5 5
Edwards 12 10 7 7 8
H. Clinton 6 8 9 10 10
No Clue 6 6 9 13 17
Richardson 5 3 4 4 4
Other 2 3 4 4 7
Kerry 2 2 1 2 2
Biden 1 3 3 3 3
Bayh 1 1 1 2 2
Vilsack 0 0 0 0 0

My earlier comments may have been a bit off. Notice the slight slip of Clark, the jump for Warner, and the increase for Edwards too. And Feingold remains strong. If this was a primary, it would be a pretty good horserace between Clark, Feingold, and Warner.

Monday, November 21, 2005

New polling
On, earlier this evening:

If the 2008 presidential primary were held today, who would you vote for?

Bayh - 144 votes - 1 %
Biden - 175 votes - 1 %
Clark - 2538 votes - 26 %
Clinton - 573 votes - 6 %
Edwards - 1158 votes - 12 %
Feingold - 1865 votes - 19 %
Kerry - 215 votes - 2 %
Richardson - 483 votes - 5 %
Vilsack - 52 votes - 0 %
Warner - 1446 votes - 15 %
Other - 257 votes - 2 %
No frickin' clue - 608 votes - 6 %

The numbers show some pretty clear things. First, the Kossacks are still totally obsessed by Clark who, IMHO, is unelectable and possibly a war criminal, from what I have read.
Mark Warner's numbers are also interesting - since no one essentially knows a thing about the guy. Sure, he is a Dem elected from a red state. But so was Edwards ... and that didn't quite work out. Although, he still gets good numbers, so the rank-and-file still must like him. I still stand by my earlier writing suggesting that a Dean/Edwards; Edwards/Dean ticket would have won election. Kerry was never going to win in a million years. Feingold is still raking in impressive numbers, which is good to see. With his votes against the PATRIOT Act, the invasion, and other things, he is the only legitimate leader right now in the Democrat Party.
Another fascinating thing: The Kossacks are rejecting almost all the insider candidates. Now that is amazing.


Diageo/Hotline Poll conducted by Financial Dynamics. Nov. 11-15, 2005. Registered voters nationwide.
"Suppose the 2008 Republican presidential primary were held today, for whom would you support if the candidates were [see below]?" If "All": "If you absolutely had to choose, which one person would you support?" Names rotated. N=326 Republican voters, MoE ± 5.4.

Rudy Giuliani - 22
Condoleezza Rice - 22
John McCain - 21
Jeb Bush - 11
Newt Gingrich - 6
Bill Frist - 3
None (vol.) - 3
Unsure - 11

"Now, suppose the general election for president in 2008 were being held today between [see below] -- for whom would you vote?" Names rotated. N=700 registered voters, MoE ± 3.7 (for all voters).

John McCain (R) - 52
Hillary Clinton (D) - 39
Unsure - 9

Jeb Bush (R) - 18
Hillary Clinton (D) - 34
John McCain (I) - 40
Unsure -7

Condoleeza Rice (R) - 20
Hillary Clinton (D) - 35
John McCain (I) - 35
Unsure - 10

Of course, the Electoral College and not the general election, elects the president. So, these numbers are meaningless. But they are intriguing. How about a Feingold/McCain ticket? End the bipartisanship, once and for all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Noise Chart
December 2005

Reporting stations: WAAF, WBCN, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC

1. Aberdeen City – The Freezing Atlantic
2. Reverend Glasseye – Our Lady of the Broken Spine
3. The Glass Set – The Glass Set
4. The Swinging Steaks – Sunday Best
5. Taxpayer – Bones & Lungs
6. Chris Brokaw – Incredible Love
7. Hilken Mancini & Chris Colburn – Hilken Mancini & Chris Colburn
8. The Hidden – Smashes to Ashes
9. The Rudds – Get the Femuline Hang On
10. Tiger Saw – Sing!
11. Anushka Pop – Akathena
12. Harris – The Light is Seeping through the Cracks
13. Don Lennon – Rountine
14. Anarchy Club – The Way and Its Power
15. Certainly Sir – Tan
16. The Coffin Lids – 'Round Midnight
17. Feathers – Absolute Noon
18. Galaxie 500 – Peel Sessions
19. The Pixies – Sell Out
20. The Product – Four Demo Songs EP
21. Blanketeer – EP
22. Cocked N Loaded – Ding Dong Doom Baby
23. Das Happening – 4 Songs
24. Four Tet – Everything Ecstatic
25. The Good North – Life Outside Our Walls EP
26. Ho-Ag – Pray for the Worms
27. The Irreverends – The Irreverends EP
28. Karacter – Karacter
29. The Scissormen – Jinx Breakers
30. Soltero – Hell Train

Most Played CD of 2005:
Ad Frank & the Fast Easy Women – … Is the World’s Best Ex-Boyfriend

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Well, I was close
It isn't easy picking winners - whether it is an election, race horses, lottery numbers, or whatever. But, I took a stab at the Boston city elections and didn't do too badly:

FLAHERTY - 49,163 - 17.58% check
ARROYO - 43,492 - 15.56% check
YOON - 41,839 - 14.96% oops, had Connolly
MURPHY - 35,507 - 12.70% check
CONNOLLY - 31,596 - 11.30% oops, had Yoon here
O'MALLEY - 28,292 - 10.12% check
WHITE - 26,965 - 9.64% had Flynn here
FLYNN - 21,739 - 7.78% had White here
Write-in Votes - 1,008 - 0.36%

On the Mayoral race, I was way off: I picked Menino, 58-42. He won 68 to 32. But still, not a bad guess. It is clear from the results that the progressives didn't come out as heavily as they needed to. Sure, they boosted Yoon into the final four. But they left Matt O'Malley - a young, white, male progressive - way behind [those familiar with my political past shouldn't be surprised at this result]. The PDFs of ward breakdowns aren't up, but I am interested in seeing whether or not O'Malley got help from black communities in town.
And in the end, incumbent Stephen Murphy - who was all but given up for dead by the media and politicos - returned easily.
Most disappointing for Patricia White was her returns. She slips to seventh even after spending a fortune on the race, with slick TV ads, trying to pitch herself as a populist woman even if she was born of privilege. Rumor has it that she will never run for public office again. Three strikes and you're out, as they say. But, never say never. Maybe people just don't know her well enough yet or were underimpressed with her ideas. Who knows.

Monday, November 7, 2005

I love newspapers. There is something about having one in your hand - versus reading one online. Over the years, I have worked for a number of pretty good papers and broken a lot of good stories as a reporter and editor. Before that, I worked as a contributor and advertising sales rep.
When I was a boy, I used to peddle the Concord Monitor, the local daily in the town I grew up in. It was one of my first real jobs. Every day after school, I would meet several other kids at the five-way intersection at White Park [where the old trolley station still is] and we would have our papers dropped there.
Back then, the Monitor was an afternoon paper and a bunch of us geeks would meet in the afternoon. At the time, the Saturday edition was the only morning edition and there was no Sunday paper. I always remember it being a huge paper and very heavy to carry around, easily double or triple the size that the paper is now.
Wednesday was the big edition of the week, with all the flyers in it for the weekend shoppers. If you had a big route - about 60 or 70 residents to deliver to - you were dragging that bag around like a Neanderthal dragging his mate by the hair!
It was a fun job but a bit strange too. The Monitor seemed to go through circulation reps. a lot. There was this one guy I used to really like who tried to get us to take pride in our work, by telling us to take time to read the paper and understand what we were delivering to the public. I never really thought of it at the time, but he was right. That guy was later replaced by another guy and then another, always urging speed in delivery and the exact opposite of the guy who told us to take pride in our work.
When we moved from one end of town to the other, I stopped doing the paper route. It was over a mile away and I was getting a little old for peddling papers. My brother would have a smaller route though and then the Monitor would move to mornings.

However, the demise of the newspaper is really startling. Similar to the recording industry, the advance of technology and the "virtue" of free content have led to its demise. We have also taught a whole generation of young people that they don't have to pay for anything, that information is "free," and that there are few and sometimes no consequences to our actions.

Check this out from Drudge earlier this week:

Mon Nov 07 2005 11:02:35 ET
Average weekday circulation of America's 20 biggest newspapers for the six-month period ended Sept. 30, as reported Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. [The percentage changes are from the comparable year-ago period.]

1. USA Today, 2,296,335, down 0.59 percent
2. The Wall Street Journal, 2,083,660, down 1.10 percent
3. The New York Times, 1,126,190, up 0.46 percent
4. Los Angeles Times, 843,432, down 3.79 percent
5. New York Daily News, 688,584, down 3.70 percent
6. The Washington Post, 678,779, down 4.09 percent
7. New York Post, 662,681, down 1.74 percent
8. Chicago Tribune, 586,122, down 2.47 percent
9. Houston Chronicle, 521,419, down 6.01 percent
10. The Boston Globe, 414,225, down 8.25 percent
11. The Arizona Republic, 411,043, down 0.54 percent
12. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., 400,092, up 0.01 percent
13. San Francisco Chronicle, 391,681, down 16.4 percent
14. Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul, 374,528, down 0.26 percent
15. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 362,426, down 8.73 percent
16. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 357,679, down 3.16 percent
17. Detroit Free Press, 341,248, down 2.18 percent
18. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, 339,055, down 4.46 percent
19. The Oregonian, Portland, 333,515, down 1.24 percent
20. The San Diego Union-Tribune, 314,279, down 6.24 percent

It is interesting to note that the top three are pretty much holding steady. At least two of those papers - the NYT and the WSJ - set the national agenda as far as media coverage goes. The USA Today is the Pravda of the United States, IMHO. But look at the rest: Down, down, down ... The Boston Globe's circ numbers are not surprising. It is a shell of the newspaper that it once was. There has also been a long-standing boycott against El Globo, as Howie Carr calls it, by conservatives, who have long complained about the paper's liberal elitist mentalities. Some drops could probably be explained by the influx of non-English speaking immigrants moving into homes in urban America once owned - or rented - by English speaking folks who have cancelled their subscriptions when they moved away.

All of this is not good though because the newspaper is the bedrock of our society. The flip of this is that there will be new newspapers cropping up, free dailies and weeklies, and also the Internet, which will flourish as a source of news. But the Internet isn't a newspaper. It just isn't the same. And another problem is that no one has really found a way to make money from the Web yet. All in due time though.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Butler's solo effort
Anna from Burned Down Days reports: The official release date for Richard Butler's self-titled solo album will be March 21, 2006 on Koch Records. More information as it becomes available.

What an ass ...
Mac allegedly assaults some of his fans: ["BUNNYMAN'S ASSAULT RAP"]. I just got the new record, "Siberia," and it isn't half bad.

Something new I have to try
"Shock coffee is the original hyper-caffeinated coffee to hit the market and the best success story to date": ["Shock Coffee"]. The site has that silly multi-level marketing feel but if it gets you zooming ...

"Going down, down, down, down ..."
Bush poll numbers reach a new low: ["Bush's job approval falls to 35 percent"]. Can impeachment be far behind?

Hmm ...
Peace Mom for President: ["Cindy Sheehan for President"].
Dems finally get stones?: ["Democrats turn up heat on White House"].
Only Maureen Dowd could write a piece like this: ["What's a Modern Girl to Do?"].

Boston elections
Kevin Rothstein of the Boston Herald is giving away "City of Champions" DVD to anyone who enters with the correct results in the Boston City Council at-large race. So, what the hell, here we go:

1. Flaherty
2. Arroyo
3. Connolly
4. Murphy
5. Yoon
6. O'Malley
7. Flynn
8. White

I don't know if I will be correct here. In fact, I am probably not picking the safe bets.
Everyone in the media is predicting a progressive sweep but I just don't see it. The city is still a big town and is still very conservative. I think - and hope - that Murphy will pull it out in the end. He is a good at-large councilor. While Arroyo is clowing around with hunger strikes because of the Iraqi invasion, Murphy is doing what is supposed to do: Getting potholes filled and cops on the beat. But the last straw may have been that sheriff's race - coming right after the treasurer's race. If he gets enough people working to save him though, he could pull it out.
I am also probably wrong in also picking Patricia White for dead last. A safer bet would be O'Malley. Being the only woman in the race should help when getting votes. But it probably won't be enough to win, especially with all the progressives doing everything in their power to launch Felix into the first position.
For the mayor's, I'm picking Menino, a very safe bet, 58-42 over Maura. However, I'm praying for Hennigan to pull out an upset. She has run a good campaign and it is time for Menino to go.
Both the Globe and the Herald endorsed Menino; The Phoenix endorsed Maura. The Phoenix also endorsed Yoon, Connoly, Arroyo, and White.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Standing in the grocery line ... thinking ...
On Saturday afternoon, I was standing in the grocery line, thinking. I made the mistake of being a gentleman and giving up my place in a grocery line for a woman who left her cart in the middle of the store and later claimed that she was in line. I let her by - after she said it wasn't a big deal. She then proceeded to unload $315 worth of groceries and then attempted to pay with a check - without a courtesy card. Needless to say, I was in line for about 20 minutes behind her.
Anyhow, this left me for a good long time staring at those insipid supermarket tabloids. You know the ones - the Examiner, the Star, the Globe, People, Us, the Enquirer ... Do you recall the ad campaign: "Enquiring minds what to know ..." with the woman standing in line, looking up from the tab stating, "I want to know!"?
And, for whatever reason, the greatest tab of all time, the Weekly World News, with the hilarious Ed Anger, doesn't seem to be on the racks anymore. As I always say about the Weekly World News, with a stolen line from "Repo Man": "They wouldn't print it if it wasn't true ..."
So I am looking at these ridiculous magazines, promoting and exposing the most shallow behavior of celebrities and all this other crap. There was the Brad and Jennifer divorce stuff, Liz on her deathbed, my God, they are even dragging up the Chandra Levi situation again ... Let the poor girl lie in the grave in silence already! You know what I mean.
I was just staring at these magazines, and Vanity Fair and TV Guide, thinking. And then, I had a revelation: I wonder if a political magazine had similar tabloid headlines, would people buy it? Would they care about important things if they were fed to them in a tabloid manner.
For example, "Scooter" Libby was indicted on Friday. This was Saturday. A potential screeching headline could be something like LIBBY INDICTED: DID HE DO IT FOR LOYALTY OR LOVE? Or how about marking the 2,000 American death in Iraq with something more than a random passing; like the body bags which we aren't supposed to see, with a headline like WHAT DID THEY DIE FOR? Or how about some scandalous corporate stuff blaring across a People-type magazine: KOZLOWSKI SAYS, 'I NEEDED THE $5K SHOWER CURTAINS!' Or, another headline: ENRON'S KENNY BOY: HOW COME HE IS STILL LIVING COMFORTABLY? THE SHOCKING TRUTH! Or another: CHINESE BUYING UP AMERICAN DEBT. WILL AMERICA BECOME THE RED, RED, AND BLUE?!
During the Clinton scandals, there was all kinds of dirt in these magazines. How come not now? Just because the scandals aren't about interns, small "L" lewinskys, and blue dresses? Come on.
The potential headlines are endless. But the question is: Would people buy the magazine? Would they wake up when faced with the important issues of the day on a level of the supermarket tab, something that they might be able to understand more clearly. I don't know. But it is worth a try, isn't it?

New Boston blog
Kevin Rothstein has a new blog about things going on in Boston City Hall: ["City Hall Confidential"]. It should be a good read. This is a great addition to the blogosphere, along with Adam Reilly's new Boston Phoenix political blog: ["Talking Politics"]. On another note, Eric Moskowitz of the Concord Monitor moves from the city beat to the political beat while Daniel Barrick moves from reporting to editing. Good luck to both of them!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Noise November Top 30 Chart

1. Apollo Sunshine – Apollo Sunshine
2. Reverend Glasseye – Our Lady of the Broken Spine
3. The Rudds – Get the Femuline Hang On
4. Harris – The Light Is Seeping Through the Cracks
5. Feathers – Absolute Noon
6. Don Lennon – Routine
7. Chris Brokaw – Incredible Love
8. The Hidden – Smash to Ashes
9. Slim Jim & the Mad Cows – Homebrewed
10. Frank Smith – Burn This House Down
11. Cassette – Broadway Showstoppers
12. Faces on Film – Seven Sisters EP
13. The Glass Set – The Glass Set
14. Ric Ocasek – Nexterday
15. The Scissormen – Jinx Breakers
16. Taxpayer – Bones & Lungs
17. Tiger Saw – Sing!
18. Aberdeen City – The Freezing Atlantic
19. Baby Ray – “I Look, There you Are”
20. Blanketeer – Blanketeer EP
21. Bourbon Princess – Dark of Days
22. Count Zero – Little Minds
23. Four Tet – Everything Ecstatic
24. La Peste – v.2.0
25. Lovewhip – Virtual Booty Machine
26. Robby Roadsteamer – The Heart of a Rhino
27. Micah Blue Smaldone – Hither and Tither
28. The Dents – Time for Biting
29. Hilken Mancini/Chris Colburn – Hilken Mancini/Chris Colburn
30. Travel Labyrinth – It’s Springtime in my Brain Today

Friday, October 21, 2005

Congratulations to WKXL 1450!
Tonight, the WKXL 1450 news team won six 2005 Golden Mike Awards, including five for the news department.
Our Assistant News Director Hilary Cogen won two awards, a first place award for documentary news on a terror alert which was issued in the region earlier this year as well as first place for a feature story about a support the troops rally held over the summer.
Syracuse University senior Frank Alosa, who spent last summer working in the news department, placed first in the spot news category for his coverage of a hearing about an alleged probation violation of a convicted child molester and also won a merit award in the documentary category for covering a Gen. Wesley Clark speech in Manchester.
I won a merit award in the feature category for a story I did about the annual Hooksett Lions Club model train fundraising event. Later this week, I will grab the audio and try to link it here.
Sports Director Mike Murphy and Tom Gauthier, who works in both the news and sports departments, also won a sports play-by-play merit award for the Bow vs. Milford NHIAA Boy’s Playoff.
In fact, the department won five of the eight awards available to it although we only entered the spot, documentary, and feature categories [No staffers decided to enter the newscast category although they would have won since only the woman from WZID entered the category].
Our six awards were more than any other radio station at the event.
In all, it was a pretty good night for local news which is relevant to the community and not a bad way for WKXL 1450 to enter its 60th year of broadcasting live and local thoughtful community radio.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Butler gets signed
This is good news, via

(October 17, 2005) -- New York, NY -- KOCH Records announces the newest addition to its successful and burgeoning roster, multi-talented artist and Psychedelic Furs frontman, Richard Butler.
With one of the most distinctive and recognizable voices in recent history, Richard Butler burst upon the scene in 1979 as lead singer and predominant songwriter of The Psychedelic Furs.Throughout their legendary 26-year history, The Furs earned a reputation as one of the most iconic forces to come out of the 80s post-punk, new wave era. The band charted big hits with "Love My Way," "Pretty In Pink," "Heaven," and "The Ghost In You," and released seven studio albums.
For his forthcoming KOCH Records solo release, titled simply Richard Butler, Butler collaborated with Jon Carin, an accomplished musician who has worked with Pink Floyd, Pete Townshend and Bryan Ferry. The result is a collection of songs that's an incredible melding of Butler's incisive lyrics and signature voice awash in Carin's mysteriously captivating musical landscape.
About the forthcoming album, Butler says, "I've experienced quite a bit the last few years, both good and bad it's changed me tremendously these songs reflect all of it and because of that, they're some of the most personal and important songs I've ever done."
Look for the self-titled album Richard Butler in early 2006!
KOCH Records proudly claims the largest number of Billboard charting albums among independents for each of the last four years (2001-2004). For additional info on the KOCH Records label and its roster of artists, please visit

All Stars
Roy Morrison/Guest Perspective
My son Sam's team, the 12-year-old Kearsarge Mountain All Stars, lost their last game at Bambino field in Jaffrey.
They did their best, but came up short. Coach Toro gathered the team and offered each player praise.
The way it should be, America's kids, pinstriped pants covered with infield dirt from desperate slides hauling away equipment bags with their wonder boy bats and oiled gloves.
But unfortunately, other images punctuate our American dream. Our kids also haul duffel bags packed with field gear, not bats, onto commodious transports. The night I told my friend about Sam's losing game, we spoke about her son's coming deployment.
The day Sam started his fall term at Kearsarge Middle School, my friend's son was enroute to Iraq. Now, I can check Sam's math homework and then read perceptive and often humorous e-mails from Iraq about base life and a trip to mandatory convoy training.
For the educated and professional classes, it's usually somebody else's kid headed toward Baghdad. It's the secretary's son or the mechanic's daughter who signed up after high school; or, it's the past 40 dad, set up man at the plant, who once upon a time joined the National Guard.
There is almost no good news from the front, just the steady drip of reports of American casualties, or bulletins of Iraqis slaughtering Iraqis. The conservative chattering classes and liberal war apologists still offer justifications, but even their ranks are thinning.
It's time for us to stop paying allegiance to some American rituals.
The heroism of our sons and daughters in arms, the spilled blood upon the sands, the inevitable alteration of history's course by war's destructive energies are not justifications for even more killing.
If the Iraq war was about the danger of weapons of mass destruction, we found they didn't exist. If the Iraq war was about democracy, the Iraqis are about to vote on a constitution. If the Iraq war was about fighting terrorism, the war is making the terrorists stronger, not weaker, and has become the jihadists rallying point and training ground.
It's time to declare victory and bring our soldiers home with all deliberate speed. That doesn't mean overnight. It does mean turning the fate of Iraq over to the Iraqis, their Arab neighbors, and the United Nations.
Yes, the United States should provide logistical support for the Iraqis, and aid in the reconstruction of their country, which, after all, we bombed and invaded.
It's time to ask ourselves a few gut questions?
Would you send your son? Would you send your daughter? Many American mothers and fathers are being asked to do just that. Why?
I listen to sports radio. There are public service ads reminding 18 year old boys to sign up for Selective Service, in case Uncle Sam wants to get in touch...
There's a great silence from most of the Democrats who apparently see little political advantage in standing up to the Commander in Chief. But I have a few questions, I'd like answered: What if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq? What if UN inspectors were still combing every last sand dune looking for non-existent weapons of mass destruction? What if we spent money on levees in New Orleans and not bombs in Baghdad? What if thousands of Americans and Iraqis were not killed or wounded? What if Iraq had not served as a flash point for jihadist suicide terrorism?
And most importantly, why don't we turn over the fight for democracy in Iraq to Iraqis and bring our sons and daughters home?
Roy Morrison is a writer living in Warner, N.H. His next book is "Eco Civilization 2140" and is forthcoming.

Serious talk radio
Barbara Anderson of CLT has a great column in the Lowell Sun this weekend about the lack of serious talk radio in Massachusetts: ["Have we lost interest in serious issues?"]. Anderson, who drives liberals ballistic with her libertarian rantings and sometimes completely dead-on correct political positions, really nails it on the head here.
The consolidation of radio in the United States has taken all the serious talk off the air. And the other places for "serious" talk radio - like NPR - are too snotty to have Anderson on the air when they rarely do local radio. This hurts groups like CLT who have pretty much relied only on talk radio to get the rabble riled up. Without that rabble getting riled up, CLT's job is even harder than it was in the past, because the immediacy of radio lends itself to the rousing. Unlike TV, radio is a hot medium; the audio pours through your ears into your head versus coming into your brain via the eyes. It has a whole different effect on the mind.
Surprisingly, she even gives a pat on the back to her friend - but political enemy - Jim Braude of NECN, stating that he does some of the best political interviews, perhaps ever.
I don't know if I would go that far. I think the late Jerry Williams was one of the best political interviewers ever; the late David Brudnoy was pretty good too, although they could both be cranky. But Braude does do a good job and he is an asset to the industry.

Speaking of radio ...
Check out this great article on the one and only Bob Bittner: ["Deejay follows his star"]. Bittner owns this station in Maine where this newspaper is published. But I am more familiar with his "beautiful music" station, WJIB 740 AM, right outside of Fresh Pond Circle in Cambridge [the article got it wrong about being in Rowley]. That station also plays all the songs from the golden era of AM radio.
I once appeared on Bob's "Let's Talk about Radio" show, which used to air on Sundays, after we had an online argument/discussion about whether or not a commercial radio station could have an eclectic freeform talk and music format, with various guest hosts and volunteers. We took the debate off line and on the air, in 1997, I believe, and it was a lot of fun hanging out at his station. It is interesting to note that I am the program and news director of WKXL which currently has a similar programming format that I was advocating back in 1997 on Bittner's show; while Bittner does the thing he loves too.

The Western Primary
I forgot to post this earlier this week: ["Huntsman sets date for proposed Western primary"].
I think this is an intriguing idea and could make for an interesting primary season, especially if the election is a week after New Hampshire and includes at least a few Western states.
The only problem is that because those states are so big, they won't actually get the New Hampshire or Iowa experience - that one-on-one, shake every candidate's hand, kind of experience that makes our primary so special. The reverse of this is that in order to mount a serious campaign for the presidency, a candidate must organized in a lot of places at the same time.
So, if you are a serious candidate running for president, you are going to be running grassroots campaigns in New Mexico, Utah, and possibly Arizona, while at the same time going to Iowa and New Hampshire. In fact, you are going to enjoy the dry heat of the West after you've spent the cool fall of Iowa and New Hampshire campaigning around. If you have enough cash, you'll be earning frequent flyer miles for you, your staff, and the media, because you will be doing this a lot. Depending on your political position, you might even skip Iowa or New Hampshire, and concentrate on a big state like Arizona. Although, that didn't build "Joementum" for Sen. Lieberman when he skipped Iowa, went straight to New Hampshire, and then skipped everything else to make a stand in Delaware, ultimately being humiliated by the results.
Another reverse: If there is a big field for either the Democrats or Republicans and one guy wins Iowa, while another woman wins New Hampshire, and they all stay in to shoot it out in the Western Primary, there could be a total free-for-all with multiple winners and a nice drawn out primary process.
With all the money that is going to be spent in the 2008 election, there is a good chance that this could happen ... and it will be a lot of fun to watch.

Polling results
I also forgot to post these latest polling results for 2008 from two weeks ago:

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. Sept. 27-28, 2005. N=900 registered voters nationwide.
"If the 2008 Democratic presidential primary were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were [see below]?" Names rotated. Among Democratic voters; MoE ± 5

Hillary Rodham Clinton: 42
John Edwards: 14
John Kerry: 14
Al Gore: 11
Joseph Biden, D-MBNA: 5
Wesley "War Criminal" Clark: 1
Mark Warner: 1
Other (vol.): 3
Unsure: 8
Wouldn't vote (vol.): 2
Evan Bayh: 0

"If the 2008 Republican presidential primary were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were [see below]?" Names rotated. Among Republican voters; MoE ± 5

Rudy Giuliani: 26
John McCain: 23
Condoleezza Rice: 18
Newt Gingrich: 7
Mitt "Guy Smiley" Romney: 3
Bill Frist: 2
George Allen: 2
Other (vol.): 2
Unsure: 17
Wouldn't vote (vol.): 1

Very interesting ... but check this out:

"Thinking ahead to the next presidential election, if the 2008 election were held today and the candidates were Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani, for whom would you vote?" Names rotated. N=900 registered voters, MoE ± 3.

Giulani: 50
Clinton: 39

"What if the candidates were Democrat [see below] and Republican [see below]?" Names rotated. N=900 registered voters, MoE ± 3.

McCain: 49
Clinton: 38

Clinton: 46
Rice: 43

Giuliani: 52
Kerry: 36

McCain: 53
Kerry: 35

Rice: 45
Kerry: 43

McCain: 57
Gore: 29

Giulani: 55
Gore: 32

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What's goin' on

Here is some interesting stuff that has been going on lately:

Sometimes, you can take the boy out of Boston but you can't take Boston out of the boy: I have been attempting to get at as much Boston municipal race coverage as I can and, as usual, the coverage has been pretty spotty.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Practices for Sustainability Emerge: A Wind Hedge as Financial and Social Innovation

Guest perspective/Roy Morrison
Today, the fundamental challenge we must face at first appears daunting. In the 21st century, economic growth must mean ecological improvement, not ecological destruction.
The news, unfortunately, is not of constructive change, but of war and disaster inextricably linked to the political and ecological consequences of our fossil fuel use.
We must ask: Can the market system heal, not destroy? Can liberal democracy endure? Can we as citizens, as businesspeople, as administrators, as workers transform a self-destructive industrial order to a prosperous and sustainable ecological civilization?
Implicit in these questions is the understanding that sustainability is not just a lofty goal, to be sacrificed to the demands of more pressing matters, but a necessity for our future prosperity and security.

A Wind Hedge
A wind hedge is a new financial means to connect energy users to renewable energy developers for their mutual advantage. It empowers energy users to facilitate and benefit from renewable energy development. It can be a powerful tool removing institutional barriers to building the renewable energy infrastructure.
The wind hedge allows renewable developers and energy end users to negotiate mutually beneficial agreements. The wind farm gets an assured and reasonable long term price for power generated; the energy user gets stable and affordable long term energy costs; society gets more renewable development, a stronger economy, and a decline in fossil fuel use and pollution. It's a win-win-win arrangement.
A wind hedge, at bottom, is an expression of the economic, social, and ecological consequences of fossil fuel use that is bringing forth healing responses to the excesses of an empire of oil. By itself, a wind hedge is not the answer to our problems. It is one manifestation, of many to come, of economic and social forces that are catalyzing a movement toward sustainability from business and pollution as usual.
A wind hedge will do more than fatten quarterly balance sheets. It improves the triple bottom line of sustainability: the financial, the social, and the ecological.
A wind hedge is a good example of the practice of sustainability representing the emergence of financial and social innovation.

A Hedge
A hedge is a means of protection. A Contract for Differences (CFD) hedge is a tried and true financial way both producers and uses control their costs.
Classically, a hedge lets a farmer in Iowa and a baker in Boston negotiate a win-win deal so both can stay in business.
The farmer can pay her mortgage if she can sell her wheat at $1.00 per bushel. The baker can pay his mortgage if he can buy wheat at $1.00 per bushel. They agree on a $1.00 strike price for 1000 bushels. The farmer sells her wheat in the Iowa market. The baker buys his wheat in the Boston market.
In the first year, there's a frost in Iowa. Wheat is $1.50. The farmer earns $1500. The farmer sends $500 to the baker. The farmer's net income is $1000.
The baker meanwhile has paid $1500 for his wheat in Boston. But he receives $500 from the farmer. His net cost is $1000.
Next year, there's a bumper crop. Wheat is 50 cents a bushel. The farmer earns just $500. And the baker pays only $500 for his wheat. The baker sends $500 to the farmer. His net cost is $1000. The farmer's net income is $1000. Over the two years, the farmer has an average income of $1.00 per bushel; the baker has an average cost of $1.00 per bushel. It's a win-win relationship.

Wind Hedge Details
A wind farm pays nothing for fuel, some money for maintenance, and a lot to bankers for their capital investments. Wind farms earn money from power sales, typically into wholesale markets. To clear the financing hurdle, a wind farm must earn enough money to cover their 20-year mortgage for capital costs.
But electricity prices vary widely. The spot market for electricity sometimes peaks at 50 cents per kilowatt-hour, and other time's falls to 2 cents. Renewable developers, to satisfy financiers, have been forced into negotiating long term power purchase contracts with utilities or other large marketers at less than favorable prices. The wind hedge, by stabilizing long term energy costs and income allows both users and developers to prosper.
The basic mechanics of the wind hedge are straightforward. The two parties agree on a quantity of power to be hedged, a strike price, and a term of years. Power generated by the wind farm is sold into its local spot market.
Each month, if the average price received by the wind farm is above the strike price, the wind farm sends a check to the energy user. If it's below the strike price, the user pays the wind farm the difference. If there's no sale of power, there's no payment by either party.
As long as the two separate markets--the wind farm's local market and the buyer's local market--behave in a similar fashion, the hedge works well. In the Northeast, for example, natural gas prices determine the market clearing prices for electricity. When natural gas prices rise or fall on the NY Mercantile Exchange, natural gas prices and electricity prices also rise or fall both in New England and in New York State. A wind hedge thus, in principle, is valid for a wind farm in New York and an energy user in New Hampshire.
Since a wind hedge is a financial arrangement only, and not a power purchase contract, the wind hedge is not limited to wind farms in the user's back yard. The user continues to buy power from its local supplier at the best price obtainable. The hedge provides economic protection.
In the U.S., large wind developers have successfully used hedge agreements with companies like Goldman Sachs, Constellation New Energy, and Morgan Stanley. Now, hedges are being actively negotiated between wind developers and businesses, universities, and governments. Completion of the first round of developer-end user wind hedges is expected shortly.

Wind Hedges and Sustainability
As a practical expression of sustainability, a wind hedge should help catalyze an ongoing ecological transformation from the ground up. This is transformation not imposed upon us by law, government, or fiat, but arising from civil society, from the actions of businesses, institutions, organizations, unions, local governments, communities, and, of course, individuals.
Sustainability, like democracy, is a social practice that, at bottom, is a matter of ongoing social innovation and renewal, of practical creativity.
Necessity means that sustainability must become an emerging characteristic of how we work, how we organize ourselves, how we measure and account for what we do.
Sustainability is an idea whose time has come. It is in response to necessity that moves us to action in accord with underlying social dynamics.
These include the creation of healing responses to excess, of the earth finding a way, and the tendency to help solve intractable problems through an increase in scale and complexity, in this case through the growth of new extensive networks between renewable power producers and power users.

Sustainability in the Market
Sustainability, in part, means smart businesspeople seeking competitive advantage in rapidly expanding markets. There's real money to be made.
Sustainability now counts. And counts big time.
General Electric President Jeffrey Imhelt, for example, has embraced "ecoimagination" and is aggressively pursuing markets for clean energy, efficiency, and clean water.
But sustainability is more than just new product development. Sustainability is, at bottom, a matter of addressing our fundamental challenge: how do we make things better in the future, not worse; how do we unleash the forces of growth in service to sustainable prosperity, strong communities, and healthy eco-systems?
We can no longer realistically choose between profit and a healthy environment. We must choose both, or we will have neither. In the 21st century we have moved from an either/or to a both/and world.
For businesses and institutions, the conduct of sustainability has become much more than rote acceptance of The World Commission on Environment and Development 1987 definition in Our Common Future (the so-called Bruntland
Report) that defined sustainability as meeting "the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Today, we are seeing flesh put on the bones of principle.
Roy Morrison is a writer and energy consultant involved in wind hedge development. His next book, forthcoming, is "Ecocivilization 2140." For more info see his Web site and click on power point and wind hedge section.

Here are some important things going on:
The Hammer gets clocked: ["DeLay steps aside as majority leader after indictment"].
Kerry exposed: ["Kerry's not- so-amazing race, on film "].
O'Reilly smacked-down: ["O'Reilly vs. Donahue in the No Spin Zone"].
An interesting piece: ["Predictions are futile"].
Weirdness or truth?: ["Forecaster leaves job to pursue weather theories"].
Anngelle's Rock Dirt: ["The Rock Dirt"].

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Protest coverage
One of the reasons I love FAIR - Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting - is the fact that they really lay it out. Here is their latest email about disappearing antiwar protests:

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country protested the Iraq War on the weekend of September 24-25, with the largest demonstration bringing between 100,000 and 300,000 to Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
But if you relied on television for your news, you'd hardly know the protests happened at all. According to the Nexis news database, the only mention on the network newscasts that Saturday came on the NBC Nightly News, where the massive march received all of 87 words. (ABC World News Tonight transcripts were not available for September 24, possibly due to pre-emption by college football.)
Cable coverage wasn't much better. CNN, for example, made only passing references to the weekend protests. CNN anchor Aaron Brown offered an interesting explanation (9/24/05):

"There was a huge 100,000 people in Washington protesting the war in Iraq today, and I sometimes today feel like I've heard from all 100,000 upset that they did not get any coverage, and it's true they didn't get any coverage. Many of them see conspiracy. I assure you there is none, but it's just the national story today and the national conversation today is the hurricane that put millions and millions of people at risk, and it's just kind of an accident of bad timing, and I know that won't satisfy anyone but that's the truth of it."
To hear Brown tell it, a 24-hour cable news channel is somehow unable to cover more than one story at a time-- and the "national conversation" is something that CNN just listens in on, rather than helping to determine through its coverage choices.
The following day (9/25/05), the network's Sunday morning shows had an opportunity to at least reflect on the significance of the anti-war movement. With a panel consisting of three New York Times columnists, Tim Russert mentioned the march briefly in one question to Maureen Dowd-- which ended up being about how the antiwar movement might affect Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential chances.
[Sidebar: This is pretty disappointed of Russert because he sometimes seems like a guy who gets it. Although, he is obsessed with a McCain/Clinton 2008 campaign. Back to FAIR]
On ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos observed, "We've seen polls across the board suggesting that we're bogged down now in Iraq and now you have this growing protest movement. Do you believe that we're reaching a tipping point in public opinion?" That question was put to pro-war Republican Sen. John McCain, who responded by inaccurately claiming: "Most polls I see, that most Americans believe still that we have to stay the course.... I certainly understand the dissatisfaction of the American people but I think most of them still want to stay the course and we have to."
[Sidebar: It's clear that some of these Sunday shows need to find some new folks to put on the panels. Must we always get the same silly inside the Beltway crap? Back to FAIR.]
A recent CBS/New York Times poll (9/9-13/05) found 52 percent support for leaving Iraq "as soon as possible." A similar Gallup poll (9/16-18) found that 33 percent of the public want some troops withdrawn, with another 30 percent wanting all the troops withdrawn. Only 34 percent wanted to maintain or increase troop levels--positions that could be described as wanting to "stay the course." Stephanopoulos, however, failed to challenge McCain's false claim.
(An L.A. Times recap of the protests--9/25/05-- included a misleading reference to the Gallup poll, reporting that while the war is seen as a "mistake" by 59 percent of respondents, "There remains, however, widespread disagreement about the best solution. The same poll showed that 30 percent of Americans favored a total troop withdrawal, though 26 percent favored maintaining the current level." By leaving out the 33 percent of those polled who wanted to decrease troop numbers, the paper gave a misleading impression of closely divided opinion.)
On Fox News Sunday (9/25/05), panelist Juan Williams was rebuked by his colleagues when he noted that public opinion had turned in favor of pulling out of Iraq. Fellow Fox panelist and NPR reporter Mara Liasson responded, "Oh, I don't think that's true," a sentiment echoed by Fox panelist Brit Hume. When Williams brought up the Saudi foreign minister's statement that foreign troops were not helping to stabilize Iraq, panelist William Kristol retorted: "So now the American left is with the House of Saud." (That was, if anything, a more complimentary take on the protesters than was found in Fox's news reporting, when White House correspondent Jim Angle-- 9/26/05-- referred to them as "disparate groups united by their hatred of President Bush, in particular, and U.S. policies in general.")
Another feature of the protest coverage was a tendency to treat a tiny group of pro-war hecklers as somehow equivalent to the massive anti-war gathering. NBC's Today show (9/25/05) had a report that gave a sentence to each: "Opponents and supporters of the war marched in cities across the nation on Saturday. In the nation's capital an estimated 100,000 war protestors marched near the White House. A few hundreds supporters of the war lined the route in a counterdemonstration."
Reports on NBC Nightly News and CBS Sunday Morning were similarly "balanced," and a September 26 USA Today report gave nearly equal space to the counter-demonstrators and their concerns, though the paper reported that their pro-war rally attracted just 400 participants (that is, less than half of 1 percent of the number of antiwar marchers).
In a headline that summed up the absurdity of this type of coverage, the Washington Post reported (9/25/05): "Smaller but Spirited Crowd Protests Antiwar March; More Than 200 Say They Represent Majority." Perhaps this "crowd" felt that way because they've grown accustomed to a media system that so frequently echoes their views, while keeping antiwar voices--representing the actual majority opinion--off the radar."

Here is Steve Iskovitz's take on it:

I'm stuck in New Jersey en route back to Boston from the weekend's protests in DC, but there's a computer here, so I'll make the best of my time:
Saturday's demonstration was strangely peaceful. There were hardly any police around, and they kept their distance. Apparently this is due to a lawsuit that ANSWER won against the DC police over incidents at a demonstration here last fall in which police behaved similarly to last summer's RNC in New York, with pre-emptive arrests and all that.
As a result of this lawsuit, the court ordered the police to keep their distance, and forbade them from wearing riot gear. Without police harassment, the demo went incredibly smoothly, and shows, I guess, what demonstrators can do when left on our own, to simply demonstrate. How many were there? I don't know. The police said 150,000, so it was likely more, how much more I can't guess.
On Sunday the IMF-World Bank met. There was supposed to be a demo or action against that. I didn't get into the city until around 1 pm that day, and I walked the security perimeter and didn't see one single protester, but something might have gone on in the morning.
Monday morning there was apparently an action at the Pentagon. I wasn't there, but I did go to the action at the White House.
About 250-300 of us met at a church at 16th and P.
Cornell West said, "Katrina, Rita, Povertina..."
Coincidentally, as we left the church to begin the march, a bus from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center drove by. The police gave us a lane and otherwise left us alone as 250-300 of us marched toward the White House. Only one helicopter flew far overhead. It's strange to see a decrease in police presence and harassment, after pretty much a steady increase over the past few years.
We march past the White House to the Ellipse. A small group of women chant, "Not my son, Not my father, You want war, Send your daughters." Someone announces that over 370 people have signed up to get arrested in front of the White House.
We split into two groups and march in either direction around the White House. Only two cops, on bikes, ride alongside us up 17th St. Police heat picks up only a little during the march. The two groups of marchers reuinite at Lafayette Park in front of the White House.
Only a handful of cops guarded the White House gate as 400 or so of us arrive. As more of us get closer to the gate, some more police arrive. People hang cards with names of war dead over the wrought iron gate of the White House. Clergy and Gold Star families (families who've had a relative killed in Iraq or
Afghanistan) proceed to the front. Several of them, including Cindy Sheehan, ask to meet the President and are denied. Police give three warnings to leave, and then begin arresting one by one.
I had to leave shortly after this to catch my ride back, but up to the time I left everything was calm, and the arrests were orderly. I've read since that Cindy Sheehan was among the arrestees. I've also read that the Americans were fighting Sadr's troops, and that the British are going to start withdrawing troops next year. The whole thing appears to be caving in on Bush fairly quickly, although where that will all lead is anyone's guess.

'Cesspools in Eden'
EPA Testers Privately Telling People New Orleans is Off the Charts
CBS News is running this blog from one of their guys down in New Orleans, which includes, in part:
"The teams working in St. Bernard Parish, which is now an enormous toxic waste dump, are waking up with sore throats and other respiratory ailments. Privately, the EPA testers have told them that all the pollutants and environmental toxins are way off the scale. No one is looking to stay there long."
If this is true, there must be an immediate stop to any plans to repopulate and an immediate fullscale investigation into the EPA and what they are holding back.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting in this story that the sludge and everything else was stirred up by new flooding in New Orleans due to Rita, and they have no idea if there were any breaches at any hazardous sites. Just more reason to slow everything down.

One nation [supposedly] under God
Many Towns Turned Away Evacuees, Leading to Days-Long Bus Trip by Aron Kahn
SAN ANTONIO - A group of Hurricane Rita evacuees were forced to remain on buses for most of a bewildering, days-long trip to San Antonio because they were denied shelter in several cities, passengers said.
The exhausting trip also was extended because the evacuees were returned to Beaumont, their starting point, halfway through under the mistaken belief that it was safe to go back.
Though accounts from the fatigued passengers sometimes conflicted Monday, this general picture emerged:
Evacuees from several Gulf Coast cities - including some Hurricane Katrina evacuees - boarded Beaumont city-transit and school buses Thursday night. Along the way, some found shelter, and remaining passengers were consolidated.
As they headed northwest, they were turned away from shelters in several small towns, said David Jones, a 39-year-old Beaumont construction worker who made the trip with his pregnant wife and 2-year-old son. In some cases, fire marshals said the buildings were full.
Water and a few snacks were offered along the way, Jones said. The bus tried to return to Beaumont early in the weekend, but was stopped outside town. At one point, the manager at a motel that had no vacancies allowed passengers to sleep on the dining room floor for a few hours.
The trip was grueling for the elderly, the ill and young who were aboard. When they arrived in San Antonio on Sunday morning, 41 passengers were transferred to a shelter for people with medical problems.
The shelter sent two to a hospital immediately: a man who needed kidney dialysis and Jones' wife. Eight others were treated for severe dehydration.
"These people zigzagged all over south Texas," shelter director Robert Marbut said.
© 2005 KR Washington Bureau and wire service sources